March 2, 1974: Byron MacGregor, Terry Jacks, The Soul Children, Bobby Womack, The Intruders

Stateside newies

BYRON MacGREGOR: The British (unavailable anywhere).
Here it is – as previously exclusively reported – except that in fact, here it ISN’T! This is the Canadian star of “The Americans” doing the “British” version of his huge US hit, and no record company in Britain has the guts to release it! Phonogram have the first-refusal rights but are frightened of the obvious political implications. So, what is it that has got them and all the other companies to which it has been offered so scared? To the backing of “Land Of Hope And Glory”, dee-jay Byron proclaims in plummy tones that the three-day working week and all Britain’s other current problems have plunged the nation into more trouble than it’s ever seen: he then goes on to exhort “The British” with facts about how, by way of the Industrial Revolution, they once beat the World by being the first with every new advance . . . but reminds us that “The British don’t brag about anything – they don’t have to!” Then, after claiming “The British have never given up – and they won’t now”, he plunges into the collected quotes of Winston Churchill, using to telling effect in his argument “We shall fight on the beaches” and “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil and sweat”. No, this has not been a partly satirical broadcast on behalf of any party – it’s a heart-felt and immensely commercial call to the man in the street’s patriotism. If it had come out last week, it would have sold half-a-million, easy. Unfortunately, unless you tune in to Capital Radio at 2 o’clock this Saturday afternoon, when I hope to be able to play it on Tim Rice’s programme, you are now not likely to hear it. A pity, for as Byron concludes, “This is truly Britain’s finest hour!”

TERRY JACKS: Seasons In The Sun (out here on Bell 1344).
Well, there it is, sitting alongside at Number One! Now I discover that I have a 1964 recording of this Jacques Brel & Rod McKuen song on Capitol by the Kingston Trio, who did it in an echoing “Pop-Folk” style, using the original French “Adieu Francoise” unlike Terry’s Anglicised “Goodbye Michelle”.

Other odds & ends: that excellent Pop synthesizer instrumental from the Continent, THE PEPPERS’ “Pepper Box” (out here last October on Spark SRL 1100) is now in the R&B Chart; after all the “authentic” versions mentioned last week, I fear that the most immediately danceable version of “The Sting” is indeed by BOBBY CRUSH (out here on Philips 6006374); PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS’ “Jet” is coupled in America by “Mamunia”, which leaves the way open for “Let Me Roll It” (our B-side) to be the follow-up; GRAND FUNK’s latest is – surprise, surprise! – Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion” (Capitol 3840) . . . whatever will that be like?!

Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten, the mysterious MOCEDADES’ ever-rising “Eres Tu (Touch The Wind)” is a churning Spanish slowie by an Iberian Brotherhood Of Man which (I bet you HAVE forgotten!) came second in last year’s Eurovision contest (and out here on Bell 1303).

To continue in brief, CLIFF De YOUNG was the star of a made-for-telly movie called “Sunshine”, whence comes his ever-so-sweet reading of the dreadful John Denver’s tinkling “My Sweet Lady” (MCA 40156) – not to be confused with Denver’s own similar “Sunshine On My Shoulders” (RCA ABPO 0213), which is hitting for the second time round. And REDBONE’s “Come And Get Your Love” actually came out here as “Hail!” some time ago (on Epic EPC 1398). Onwards!

THE SOUL CHILDREN: I’ll Be The Other Woman (Stax STA 0182).
As the title suggests, this big R&B/Pop-crossover hit in an over-calculated version of the Doris Duke hard-done-by style of slowie. A pity it lacks soulful spontaneity, as their “Poem On The School House Door” wuz a bitch. Still, if the R&B market can go for the Pointer Sisters . . .

BOBBY WOMACK: Lookin’ For A Love (UA UA-XW375-W).
Title track from his new “Lookin’ For A Love Again” album, this ultra-propulsive bouncy beater is Bobby’s revival of the tune he originally recorded over ten years ago with his brothers in the Valentinos (yes, Cynthia, the same Valentinos – and Womacks – who first did – and wrote – “It’s All Over Now”).

American Singles

Pick of the week

THE INTRUDERS: I’ll Always Love My Mama (Philadelphia International PIR 2149).
This exquisitely-wrought Philly Sound romper with its street corner reminiscing chat over the backing track “Part 2” was THE hit of the Intruders’ act during their recent visit here – amazingly so, as its only exposure had been via discos. Therein lies Philly’s power, of course, but unfortunately discos alone rarely can make uncompromising R&B like this into a Pop hit without radio’s help. Even if the airwaves are slow to respond, do give this a try . . . it’s as close to pure Philly vocal group work as the slick Messrs. Gamble & Huff get these days.

ALBERT HAMMOND: I’m A Train (Mums MUM 2150).
. . . and I’m a bulldozer – K-E-R-RUNCH!! Jolly Paul Simon-type strumming Pop for kiddie singalongs – once heard, never forgotten (unfortunately!). CHOO-CHOO PICK.

ULTRA HIGH FREQUENCY: We’re On The Right Track (Pye 7N 256-28).
Thanx to its buoyantly thudding Norman Harris-arranged beat, railway effects intro and backing-track flip, this logical follow-on from “Love Train” should do big disco biz but – paradoxically – its great unison back-up harmonies are so deeply within the pure Philly tradition that the overall effect is probably too muddled for Pop pickers.

ULTRAFUNK: Living For The City; Who Is He And What Is He To You? (Contempo CS 2001).
Contempo is now distributed by Pye, so hopefully Ultra High Frequency and UltraFunk will be kept apart! This mystery group of instrumentalists turn out a synthetically-led thump-along treatment of Stevie’s hit that’ll appeal to backing-track freax only, while their flatulent 8:07 treatment of the Bill Withers flip is Norman Whitfield styled . . . and just as boring as that implies.

In fact, retitled as “Who Is She And What Is She To You?”, the latter gets grittily rendered by ex-Gospel singer DELLA REESE, along with a gruffly good version of Luther Ingram’s legendary “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right)”, on People PEO 106. Try it.

LOU REED: Caroline Says – I; Caroline Says – II (RCA ABPO 0221).
The inimitable Reed voice unadorned by such fripperies as booming basses and “doo-de-dooing” chix is likely to be too angular and unmelodic for other than Bowie-fed ears, so that the Kurt Weil-clad “I” and dead slow alternative “II” version are both best only for enigma-seeking students.

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination (Buddah 2011208).
Glad’s many soulful slow American smashes are yet another indication of transatlantic differences in taste, so that here, where we’re readier to rave, this accelerating pounder with its oompa-oompa wardrums beat should be the one to put her in our Charts with a vengeance. Imagine it a hit! POP/R&B PICK.

BO DONALDSON & THE HEYWOODS: Deeper And Deeper (Probe PRO 614).
These beefy Yankee youngsters have yet to benefit hit-wise in America from their many stints as support group on Osmond tours, whereas here, mania being what it is, that association alone may be enough to spark interest in this competently chugging Bubblegum. Far worse has been a hit.

WILSON PICKETT: Soft Soul Boogie Woogie; Take That Pollution Out Your Throat (RCA ABPO 0174).
With a grunt and a holler – and a sprightlier rhythm than usual – Miz Lena’s boy sounds almost fresh for a change. The flip’s another way of saying “It isn’t only your health that smoking can hurt” . . . and, as the record’s imported from America, it’s probably made out of an old ashtray at that!

JIMMY RUFFIN: Tell Me What You Want; Going Home (Polydor 2058433).
The Al Green style suits Jimmy well, so it’s a pity that he’s remembered in a Pop context when this agile light thwacker is miles better than his Motown mush. Answering chix add that Detroit Spinners touch for wider appeal, which could work here. Nice soulful autobiographical flip.

JOEY DEE: Baby Don’t You Know (I Need You) (Alaska ALA 14).
If, like me, you dig Brenton Wood, Friends Of Distinction or Tommy James, you’ll love this light-voiced fella (not the Peppermint Twister!). Yeah, that’s nice!

OSCAR TONEY JR: Make It Easy On Yourself; Is It Because I’m Black (Contempo CS 2002).
This worthy rival to Jerry Butler’s original finds Oscar in mellower mood than usual as he gently croons the bitter-sweet Bacharach & David slowie between some stone gon’ mumbling at beginning and end. No jive – it’s really impressive. He’s so low-key on the UltraFunk-backed lazy-paced flipside reading of Syl Johnson’s 1967 protest song that the message almost glides right by. It’s a double “A” disc, actually, and a double SOUL PICK.

BETTE MIDLER: In The Mood; Drinking Again (Atlantic K 10413).
Lullaby Of Broadway” is getting all the air-play and is so much better, yet we get Bette’s King Pleasure-styled multi-tracked vocal version of the Glenn Miller classic that was penned by Joe Garland (and not Judy, as Atlantic inadvisedly claim!). Although it’s indeed clever it gets a bit messy and you can’t dance to it. Slow boozer’s gloom flip.

REDBONE: We Were All Wounded At Wounded Knee (Epic EPC 1472).
Less compulsive than “Witch Queen Of New Orleans”, the Redskins’ latest oompa-oompa politico-rocker has been big on the Continent – as evidently has been the more aggressive but less interesting “Reservation Of Education” by those other Red Rockers, the Smokey Robinson-helping XIT (Rare Earth RES 111). Ugh!

THE EDGAR WINTER GROUP: Hangin’ Around (Epic EPC 2031).
Clomp-along high energy Rock with good dynamics and musicianship but possibly not enough that’s different.

CANNED HEAT: One More River To Cross (Atlantic K 10420).
Brassy bouncy title track from their first Atlantic LP, which has a lovely cover.

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